On June 28, 2012, the Supreme Court announced its decision in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, along with companion casesDepartment of Health and Human Services v. Florida and Florida v. Department of Health and Human Services. All these cases involve challenges to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Questions before the Court included whether the ACA’s “individual mandate” is constitutional, and whether the ACA’s expansion of Medicare improperly coerces the states.
In an opinion delivered by Chief Justice Roberts, the Court held by a vote of 5-4 that the individual mandate may be upheld as within Congress’ power under the Taxing Clause. In addition, Justices Breyer and Kagan joined the Chief Justice in concluding that the Medicare expansion coerced the states in a manner violative of the Constitution. Justice Ginsburg, joined by Justice Sotomayor, did not agree with the coercion rationale, but did agree that Congress could not withhold existing funds based on a refusal to participate in the expansion. Justices Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas and Alito filed a dissenting opinion. Justice Thomas filed an additional dissenting opinion.
To discuss the case, we have Randy Barnett, who is the Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Legal Theory at the Georgetown University Law Center, and Neal Katyal, who is a Partner at Hogan Lovells, Professor at Georgetown Law Center and former Deputy Solicitor General.